Posts Tagged ‘#songwriter’

This Tuesday I wanted to feature a song by a good friend of mine. “Denham Street” was written by Bob Enderle. Bob Enderle died too many years ago. He wrote a number of songs that I really like. I am not a fan of most popular music. I don’t need to hear one more song about boy loves and loses girl, or how the singer wants to party and have sex all night.

Denham Street and many other songs he wrote are about social injustices we so easily overlook and ignore. This song points out how unfair, uncaring and mean our social policies are. He makes the song sound sweet while the dark lyrics dig into our consciousness.

I did a simple recording of this song. I started with some drum tracks and I played my 12 string Ovation guitar for the main instrument track. I added strings to reinforce the guitar. Once I sang the melody I thought it would be a good song for harmony. I added the harmony vocals and listened to the rough mix a few times.

After a few times through the song I turned off the drum track and liked it better without them. I worked on it for days. I wanted to ‘do the song justice’ and make it fit the image I have from Bob’s version. Sweet tragedy.

Here are the lyrics and my version of Denham Street. I hope you enjoy.


            “Denham Street”                                                     Bob Enderle
 
Car alarms squeal on Denham Street     
Like coyotes howling at the moon.
Tattered grey men look for some place to eat
Teen age mothers search for her womb.
Street lights shattered near the playground;
Darkness hides an old routine.
Cracks in the family, crack in the hall.
 
There’s an overpass over Dehnam Street
Supporting Highway 95.
There are no exits for Denham Street
But it’s only a twenty minute drive.
To the shops with plywood windows
Through the alleys of despair
Just another wrong turn and you’re almost there.
 
To every city there is a Denham Street
And to everyone who grows up there
There are few exits from Denham Street
Fewer thoughts behind an empty stare.
Social programs lack the funding
Social consciousness has died.    
Solutions on the shelf have never been tried.     

Another addition for my Cover Tune Tuesdays project. For those of you just jumping in, I am not covering songs from well-known artists you have already heard. I wanted to play some of the songs written by people I have known over the years. I can pretty much guarantee none of us thought we would be famous authors – mostly because none of us tried to be. Like many others, we decided not to put in the eternal time, money and thankless effort necessary to ‘make it big’ in the music scene.

This is a song written by Tom Gorman, Lori Niemi and Tom Robinson. It was written in 1980 and has been recorded and performed by many people in the core group of songwriters I have mentioned previously in my posts.

This time I recorded the song using my Martin 6 string guitar. I usually use my 12 string but since my bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery last year and plain getting old, it is hard for me to do difficult songs any more.

I used my Ovation 12 string for the 2nd guitar parts so I have not abandoned it completely. I use Sonar Cakewalk – now by BandLab as my recording software. The haunting melodic sounds are from a program called Dimension Pro. I sang and did a little harmony here and there but that is the essence of the mix.

Jackals cover performed by MSK


I would like to share some versions of this song with you and will post 2 other previous recordings. It is a good historical view. People change, equipment changes and the mood inspired by the song change over time.

          "Jackals"                                                           (C) 1980
Straight hollow blocks of buildings haunted with lives
Scanning you with hidden silence
They house the hungry Jackals who go prowling through the angled
Paths of night.
 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies
Making like they’re you’re best friends, while they’re sharpening
Their knives.

 
Stalking unwary victims they sidle up
Cutting you with cultured voices
And punctuating death throws with a fluttering of gestures and a
Sociable smile.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals they stalk in disguise
They clutch your hands with such courtesy but there’s murder
In their eyes.
 
 
Running that dreadful gauntlet every day
Mixed in with the gentle people
A Jackal sticks his paw as a cohort jabs a claw out as you
Hit the ground.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals disguised as they are
They’ll send you out to save the world but you won’t get very far.

 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies:
Making like they’re your best friends…….
Gary Jefferson on vocals
Bob Enderle on vocals

I would like to share another half-baked instrumental piece with you. When you have written over 175 songs you have to try very hard to discover new things. Sometimes we audio engineers can get stuck in a rut too. We use dependable tools and procedures until we slowly lock ourselves into a production-line-song making-engine.

If you are a label, publisher etc., you will appreciate the cookie-cutter assembly line model. You would benefit from the homogeneous funnel that affects all the broadcast music we listen to today. As you can tell from my previous posts, I choose not to be main stream and often try the unusual or untested. But this is where I will stop whining about a music industry that only wants to back the mega mega stars of today. Our favorite musicians from the past would never get a break in today’s world. Long live rock and roll.

This song is in the chopping block stage. For fun, I noodle with varied instruments all the time. Most of it is nonsensical and I archive or delete it. Often there are really good gems in a sea of debris. On occasion, most of what I created sounds good and for some reason I like it. There are parts that work well and others that need to be enhanced or deleted. The software is capable but fairly easy to edit and “copy – Paste”. If you like or dislike a section, please let me know the min/sec in your comments.

This recording was a little unusual in the process side of things. I started with a metronome click track in my computer. I picked up my guitar (always in tune) and set up the computer (always ready to record) and – I am being literal here – found a chord on the guitar. Without regard for key or scale or root, I just kept trying different positions until I liked the sound and voicing of the chord. I started recording just that chord in various styles for a few minutes. Each chord clean and distinct. Then I would play a pattern or arpeggio with the same voicing. Then a few hard hits. Next I stopped recording, found another chord and repeated that process.

Once I had a number of guitar parts that I liked, I arranged them along a measured grid to create a single guitar track. I used chords for different segments of the song to create the chorus and bridges. Once the guitar was assembled I listened to the guitar and recorded MIDI bass guitar, piano and drums using the plug-ins in my software (Cakewalk/Sonar/Bandlab). The drums have a jazzy dynamic feel and I like the way some of this song fits together. I imagine watching for the sunset or sunrise over the hill on a chilly but beautiful day. That’s just me.

I have to fix a lot of things and it is not complete as I cautioned, but I hope you like it. BTW, I call it “134” because that is the tempo! I really have to work on my naming skills.

 I just realized what a dipshit I am. Don’t know exactly when it began But it certainly wasn’t part of my plan.

I understand how condescending I’ve become. Thinking I’m the only one that gets things done. You can’t be productive if you are having fun.

Step Outside yourself for just five minutes. That’s all it takes to know who you are. Step Outside yourself: I can show you how. You really don’t have to go very far.

I know, ’cause I can hear what you’re thinking. Everyone loves me so why all the cursing? I hate the thought of endless reversing.

Step Outside yourself for just five minutes That’s all it takes to know who you are. Step Outside yourself: I can show you how, You really don’t have to go very far.

Step Outside and pay attention. It’s not like the rest of the world needs your attention. It takes a little effort and not much time. Come on out, the answer is in the rhyme.

Give me a minute And if you                 look at you The way I                  look at me We can Step Outside together.

Step Outside yourself for just five minutes. That’s all it takes to know who you are. Step Outside yourself: I can show you how. You really don’t have to go very far.

 I just realized what a dipshit I am. Don’t know exactly when it began But it certainly wasn’t part of my plan.

(C) MSK 2-5-2019

Original by MSK

Over the last few years I have focused on recording and releasing songs I have written. Among these songs are a few co-authored works where portions of the music, lyrics or arrangement were inspired by friends in a core group of writers.

On my new Cover Tune Tuesdays series, I wanted to record songs that were written by people in that core group. (A lot of these songs also benefited from a little help from our friends, LOL) The first in this series is a song written by my brother David. He has been referenced here a number of times. This is a song of his called “The Magic Goes Away

I played his Martin six string guitar for this one. It is a delight to play and sounds great. I sing my harmony parts so the melody will be in the ear of the author! I added drum loops and used the computer for the bass guitar and strings sounds.

“The Magic Goes Away”

Though the feeling’s here to stay. The Magic Goes Away. As the method in our madness is exposed. Still there’s newness in the air. A warmth, a certain flair. And the knowledge that our hearts will not be closed.

We can’t say that it won’t end. It’s not in us to pretend. But at last the masquerades have all been played. There’s a quiet, hopeful sound. In the way that our hearts pound. It’s you and I, at last we’re on our way.

Though the feeling’s here to stay. The Magic Goes Away. As if we’d loved each other once before. Come and hold me once again. My lover, and my friend. As old magic gets replaced by something more.

It’s that newness in the air. A warmth, a certain flair. And the knowledge that our hearts will not be closed.

by Charles David Kennedy

I have been playing around with some themes, grooves, melodies lately. I have written a number of instrumentals over the years that are destined to have no lyrics. Sometimes the pieces are simple riffs and other times they can be full blown productions. I have a few I would like to share with you in the near future. Here is one I am still working on but I like where it is going.

This one I call “Another Dimension”

“Another Dimension”

Greg Stern

MSK Studio

Part of the challenge in writing songs is how difficult it might be to convey a particular feeling or message to studio musicians.  All players should be heading in the same direction, playing the same tune, moving at the same tempo and so on.  Creating soundscapes must be a lot like painting.  Drawing the lines and forms are one thing, but which color is best?  There are so many available yet each one conveys a unique mood or feeling.  Sounds can be like that.  We asked a guitar player/friend of ours to come up with guitar tracks for a project I was working on.   This was for a cable TV project looking for sound tracks for an automotive enthusiast series.  We wanted to give the guitar parts a bit of mood setting so we asked him to create tracks that would generate the feeling of …

an engine or racing car, crunchy, powerful

drive – movement – acceleration, fast, fluid

Using basically no more than the above “instructions” he gathered toys and used the word imagery to shape the sound and the playing style for these tracks.  We used the same list to come up with the basic tracks for the song.  This song is an adaptation of a song I wrote a long time ago and we called it The Big D Jam.  I originally composed this song using the Arp Odyssey synthesizer.  I programmed a pretty cool sounding bass patch and came up with the bass line and skeleton of the song.  This song in its original version was performed when I was with The Personal Touch years ago.  If it was a rockin’ crowd we would let Ric Ahlers jam a bit on the solo parts.  I put some simple lyrics to it and it was a really fun song to play out.  Recently I pulled it out of the song closet and re-wrote the chorus.  I also used new software plug-ins from my computer for all the sounds.  This was amazing for me because I have all this fancy gear with cool sounds and I am not using them at all.  In this post, I wanted to give you an idea how the song progressed. The new sounds are just amazingly clear and natural.  I will post in the near future the complete mix with vocals and effects.  When the sounds and the performance match the request or target, the song seems like it was made to order.

Some of you may notice right away that this song is a little different.  The beat is not the same as many other songs.  I enjoy playing in different time signatures.  Not too weird, but I like different beats and even tempo changes if done right.  This song is played in 3/4 time rather than the more traditional 4/4 time. It gives it more of a waltz kind of feel to the measures.  This is a straight forward recording with me and my Ovation 12 string guitar.  There is a hint of a long reverb.

Castles     To me, this is a rather sad song.  I have seen many relationships that should last forever crumble in front of me.  People that were dedicated and adored each other turned to bitter enemies.  Mutual friends and family stuck with unpleasant decisions.  Broken hearts and lives.  Sometimes there are innocent and guilty, but not as often as you would think.  The rooms themselves seem to whisper a sad tale.  Even the pictures are affected by the loneliness and help tell the tragic but all too familiar tale.  Using common excuses as cliche’s the chorus sums it up fairly well while the verses bounce from past to present.

This is not about the relationships that start out with lies or Jekyll/Hyde waiting for you.  This is more about someone wanting to mold you.  Over powering or just with  persistence.  These extreme situations would quickly spin out of control.  Some that begin with love turn vicious.  And as a reminder these are people that professed they loved each other not long ago.  I don’t know how that is possible, frankly.   Best wishes to you if you have ever had to deal with this situation.

I kept hearing a melody line while reading the poem “Hearts Of Stone” I posted earlier.  It is a haunting melody in many ways.  The music behind it is sparse and supports the vocals with open space and fluid timing.  The music seems out of place at first as the lyrics are happy, hopeful and even loving.  On the other side of the chorus the lyrics take a darker look at the conditions many people live with.  The minor key and slow progression of the instruments come into play and help paint a portrait of dismal human experiences.

As with a number of my original recordings, I wish I could sing the piece with power and passion the way it needs to be sung to convey the ideas in my head, but this is probably the best I can do.  Close your eyes and pretend your favorite vocalist is singing.  That MIGHT help lol. Comments suggested a rock song for the lyrics and I agree.  I am playing with the idea and may have another version in the future.  For now, here is my eerie version of “Hearts Of Stone”.

Heart-of-Stone

 

Before We Fell In Love”                                                                                  (c)1-19-94 MSK

The painting used to be stunning,

Now it is shallow and pale.

What was once strong and firm,

Stands undecided and frail.

 

Anxiously awaiting the feast

Doesn’t seem worth the hassle.

These rooms so dark and lonely,

Were once a mighty castle.

 

The pool is deep,

It goes on forever.

Things don’t really change,

Only how we wish to see.

 

She used to be so beautiful,

He was so gentle and kind.

They wish not to see each other now,

To leave all their past behind.

 

Summer seemed to last forever,

Years pass in the blink of an eye.

When old friends come to visit,

You can’t wait to say good-bye.

 

The pool is deep,

The grass is always greener.

I was who I am

Before we fell in love.